Watch a 'Pasta Granny' Prepare This Rare 'Duchess's Little Snails' Dish

Courtesy of Vicky Bennison
Courtesy of Vicky Bennison

By some estimates, Italy has over 350 different kinds of pasta—and that’s only counting the different shapes. You’ll find twisted strozzapreti (literally “priest stranglers”), shoe-shaped ravioli, “swaddled baby” ravioli, and ear-shaped orecchiette.

While some of these variations can be found all throughout Italy, others are prepared only in certain regions, mostly by elderly women who may not have taught these family recipes to the next generation. One of the rarest types of pasta is su filindeu (which translates to “God’s wool”), and only a few people in the world know how to make it.

Vicky Bennison, the creator of the Pasta Grannies website and YouTube channel, wants to change that. By documenting these women (and sometimes men) doing what they do best, she hopes to preserve these centuries-old recipes.

Take, for instance, Anna Faggi, whose signature lumachelle della duchessa (literally “the duchess’s little snails") can only be found in the Pesaro Urbino region of central Italy.

According to the Encyclopedia of Pasta by Oretta Zanini De Vita, legend has it that lumachelle was invented inside the royal court of the Duke of Urbino, a walled city in Italy’s Marche region. The duke’s kitchen servants carried the recipe beyond the palace, where it became popular among nuns in the region.

The dough contains cinnamon and nutmeg, and the preparation is rather time-consuming, making it a dish that’s only prepared for weddings and other special occasions.

After preparing and slicing the dough, Faggi wraps the strips around a bulrush reed to create tiny tubes. Next, she rolls the tubes over a comb to create ridges in the pasta. It’s served in chicken stock, and while it’s traditionally topped with chicken stomach, you can do what Faggi does and add Parmigiano cheese instead.

See how it’s made in the video below:

The Palos Verdes Blue: The Beautiful Butterfly That Wasn't Extinct After All

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wikimedia // Public Domain
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wikimedia // Public Domain

Terrible extinction news frequently makes the headlines, but sometimes, conservationists declare defeat too early. The Palos Verdes blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus palosverdesensis) is one such example: Presumed extinct in 1983 after it seemed to vanish from its habitat in California's Palos Verdes Peninsula, it was discovered flitting among the grass in San Pedro again 11 years later.

Aside from coming back from the edge, the butterfly is notable for fuzzy wings that look brownish when closed, but a stunning silvery blue once they open up. Today it's still listed as threatened, but there's a captive breeding program to help make sure the beautiful species never goes missing again. Learn more—and see the butterfly up-close—in the video from Great Big Story below.

Why Cutesy Names Are the Most Effective Way of Getting Your Cat's Attention

iStock
iStock

When you were naming your cat, you probably didn’t consider your feline friend’s hearing range. But according to Vancouver, Canada-based veterinarian Uri Burstyn, you probably should have—at least if you want your cat to pay attention when you talk to it.

According to Dr. Uri, the name he goes by in his adorable YouTube videos, Felix isn’t a great cat name. Nor is Garfield. But Fluffy? A great choice.

Cat ears are finely attuned to high-pitched noises. Since most of their prey communicate at high frequencies—think mouse squeaks and bird chirps—cats are not as good at hearing low-frequency sounds. Ideally, you want your cat’s name to end in a high frequency, since that’s the kind of sound cats hear best and naturally pay attention to.

For human speech, that basically means that it should end in an “eeeee” sound rather than a consonant. Grumpy Cat? A bad name. Just “Grumpy?” Perfect. That's why "kitty kitty" works pretty well to get a cat to pay attention or come toward you. It's a squeaky sound.

Luckily, many nicknames in English tend to end in an ie or a y, so you probably already have a cat-friendly name for your pet waiting in the wings. Now you know why your cat is more likely to respond to your high-pitched, baby-voiced nicknames than its full name.

Enjoy Dr. Uri's explanation, and his helpful demonstration with his noble friend Lancelot, in the video below.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER